SI Vault
 
A Yawning Gap In His Life
Calvin Fussman
March 14, 1983
His wife dead, Michael Spinks faces his biggest fight, with tiny Michelle as the special someone in his corner
Decrease font Decrease font
Enlarge font Enlarge font
March 14, 1983

A Yawning Gap In His Life

His wife dead, Michael Spinks faces his biggest fight, with tiny Michelle as the special someone in his corner

View CoverRead All Articles View This Issue
1 2 3 4 5

"I'll roll out the red carpet for Michael to come down the stretch," Braxton counters. "Only the carpet will be made of his blood."

Conditioning probably will be a significant factor in this 15-round bout, and many experts wonder if Spinks has been able to train effectively, in view of his troubled winter. On the night of Jan. 5, a car in which he was a passenger was stopped by the Philadelphia police. "We saw the flashing lights and we turned off the street," says Leland, who was with Michael at the time. "We didn't think the lights were meant for us. Before we knew it, they were following us and there was another [police] car coming toward us. They jumped on us. They said, 'Get out or we'll blow your heads off!' " A search of the car revealed a .45-caliber revolver, which had been a gift to Michael from a friend and which, shades of Pruitt-Igoe, he had taken out of his house five nights earlier so he could fire off several celebratory New Year's Eve rounds.

Spinks was charged with possession of an unlicensed weapon (which had been reported stolen) and was released on $1,000 bond a few hours later; the trial date was set for April 4. The incident sparked Leon-like newspaper headlines. Like brother, like brother. Two nights later, Sandy died in the crash on the Schuylkill Expressway.

It's nearing midnight as Michael Spinks runs through a drizzle on the soggy grass on the bank of the Schuylkill River. The gray cloud cover somehow gives the night a look more gloomy than it would have if it were completely black.

"I love to run out here," he says. "Me and my lady used to run here all the time. It's real nice in the summer. There are a lot of geese in the water, and there are families with laughing kids, and—you see over there, over where that row of cars is parked?—that's where the teenagers go to kiss. Yeah, it was fun."

His breath visible in the cold, he ducks under leafless tree branches, stops at a chin-up bar to lift himself a few times and then continues, throwing uppercuts as he runs. "I've been so frustrated and upset," he says. "This fight will be my way of letting all the steam off. I'm going to take everything out on that man, as if Braxton were to blame for everything that has happened to me since January 1."

The uppercuts come faster as his stride lengthens, and he runs off into the foggy darkness, all alone.

1 2 3 4 5